How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 12:36 pm Thread Starter
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How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

I started my 2012 R1200RT this morning only to be greeted by the RED "Brake Failure" warning flashing light. This is shown in text, not an icon. I can't find anything in my manual about that particular warning. Other warnings about the brakes but not this one. What am I looking at?

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #2 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 12:49 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

A very good chance it is a low battery start up that the ABS does not like. You can check by going for a ride for a few minutes until the bike is warmed up and shut it down. It should start easier and not put such a large voltage drop on your battery. In any case, do a load test on the battery by hooking a volt meter to it and then try to start the bike. If it drops to 9.5 volts or less your battery is no good.

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post #3 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 12:57 pm Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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A very good chance it is a low battery start up that the ABS does not like. You can check by going for a ride for a few minutes until the bike is warmed up and shut it down. It should start easier and not put such a large voltage drop on your battery. In any case, do a load test on the battery by hooking a volt meter to it and then try to start the bike. If it drops to 9.5 volts or less your battery is no good.
Thanks beech, I read some other posts about the battery causing this problem. I did have the bike on the charger this morning. When I hooked it up it was (at rest) 12.4v and 75% capacity. I let it charge (about 2 hours) till it read 100%. I have not had a chance to ride it as I'm changing the seat and don't want to ride without a seat! Thanks again, I think that is probably my problem.

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #4 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 1:31 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

It will flash the warning triangle and other indicators after start until the ABS sensors detect motion in both wheels. I don't like it but it is how it works. Do they not go out when you're riding?

Edit: The system has to read both sensors so you can't, for example, just put it up on the center stand and spin one wheel. The system check must include a comparison of the signal from both wheels so it can test the health of the sensors themselves.

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post #5 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 1:43 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

The owners manual goes into that in some detail but it's still a bit cryptic. Bottom line is turn the bike on, wait until the warning light finish doing their thing (you can just go ahead and start it immediately), start it and pull away. Once you're above about 3 mph the ABS self-diagnosis completes and all the lights should go out. If this is the case then you are good to go. If the warnings stay on, there's something wrong.

2012 RT Owners Manual, Chapter 5, pages 67-68
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post #6 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 4:47 pm Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

Many thanks to all of you. A short ride and all is well. I guess I'll learn these with a little more time in the saddle.

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #7 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 5:05 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

Quote:
A very good chance it is a low battery start up that the ABS does not like.
A dodgy battery can talk to you, though not in a language that is easy to understand. Apart from a brake warning light a battery can tell you it's on the way out by resetting some of your preferences in the display, by resetting the clock, by refusing to respond to the first press on the start button by firing into life on the second. You've got to learn to speak Battery.

Ian
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post #8 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 5:14 pm Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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A dodgy battery can talk to you, though not in a language that is easy to understand. Apart from a brake warning light a battery can tell you it's on the way out by resetting some of your preferences in the display, by resetting the clock, by refusing to respond to the first press on the start button by firing into life on the second. You've got to learn to speak Battery.

Ian
Thank you Ian, I planned to do a load test but haven't had the chance. The bike had sat for a while, I'm hoping it was just down from not being ridden.

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #9 of 27 Old Oct 23rd, 2019, 8:49 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

I put a brand new battery in mine this past May. Right at startup it shows 12.4 volts. Starts every time. I wouldn't worry about marginal voltage until it starts to not start. 8-D

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post #10 of 27 Old Oct 24th, 2019, 12:51 am
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

That is okay around town but if your two states away from home and you don't know you have a bad battery not so fun. Plus the damage that can be done trying to start a BMW with low battery voltage is known. I keep my bikes on maintenance chargers which is generally okay but it also masks the fact that the battery might be low on capacity due to failing conditions. Old age is one, trying to get that last year out of it is not worth it. Just today my K1300S bike battery was giving me a little grief at the gas station. It is always kept charged. It is coming up on three years old and it won't see that birthday. I'll be ordering a new battery this week.

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post #11 of 27 Old Oct 24th, 2019, 11:11 am
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

Running voltage is 13.9 so the alternator would appear to working fine. Of course, I have a pair of Denli S4's that come up with the ignition (before starting) so maybe that's why the voltage is 12.4? Regardless, I was two states away this past weekend and all was well. I'll pay a bit more attention to it though. It would suck to have it die on me.

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post #12 of 27 Old Oct 25th, 2019, 11:04 am
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

Go here and replace the thing. To your door for less than you can buy anywhere else. If you dig around enough you will also see these are the makers of oem batteries.

https://www.batterymart.com/
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post #13 of 27 Old Oct 25th, 2019, 6:37 pm Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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Go here and replace the thing. To your door for less than you can buy anywhere else. If you dig around enough you will also see these are the makers of oem batteries.

https://www.batterymart.com/
The warning light is on every time I turn on the bike but goes away after a few feet. I suspect since it always comes on that the battery may be the problem.

Thanks MHTOUR, those are good prices.

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #14 of 27 Old Oct 25th, 2019, 7:01 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

It sounds like what you are seeing is the standard startup "brake failure" warning, which continues until the bike reaches about 2mph. At that point if the ABS test is passed (system working AOK) warning goes away. Most of the comments assumed your blinky didn't stop after you began moving. You'll see that "Brake Failure" light every time you turn on ignition. It remains until the system does its testing, then light goes out. The only time you have an issue is should the light remain after you get moving. (You generally still have brakes even in that case, just no ABS or power assist--which can be disconcerting.)

It's confusing and disturbing to see "Brake Failure" red light on, for sure. Once you get used to it, no problem.
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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The warning light is on every time I turn on the bike but goes away after a few feet. I suspect since it always comes on that the battery may be the problem.

Thanks MHTOUR, those are good prices.
No, that's the way the system works. I explained this earlier. The ABS computer needs to see, and compare, the signals from the wheel sensors before it's convinced everything is OK. It's silly, I mean, every ABS system on earth probably does the same thing, but BMW felts for some reason that they needed to do it this way to confuse the owners.

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post #16 of 27 Old Oct 26th, 2019, 12:15 am Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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No, that's the way the system works. I explained this earlier. The ABS computer needs to see, and compare, the signals from the wheel sensors before it's convinced everything is OK. It's silly, I mean, every ABS system on earth probably does the same thing, but BMW felts for some reason that they needed to do it this way to confuse the owners.
Yes, I realize that now. Apparently my system is functioning properly.

Speaking of brakes, this is the first motorcycle I have had that has both ABS and the combined braking of both wheels via the handbrake. My bike only requires the effort of two fingers pressure to do all the braking I need. If no emergency came along I could do all the normal braking with just two fingers. Is this normal? If I were to grab a handful of this handbrake I'd be kissing the back of my windshield! Is this normal and just something I need to get used to?

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #17 of 27 Old Oct 26th, 2019, 4:03 pm
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Cool "Brake Failure" warning?

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Yes, I realize that now. Apparently my system is functioning properly.

Speaking of brakes, this is the first motorcycle I have had that has both ABS and the combined braking of both wheels via the handbrake. My bike only requires the effort of two fingers pressure to do all the braking I need. If no emergency came along I could do all the normal braking with just two fingers. Is this normal? If I were to grab a handful of this handbrake I'd be kissing the back of my windshield! Is this normal and just something I need to get used to?
Power assisted brakes were the biggest change for me from earlier LTs. If you need to STOP, they do that. If you need to slow, especially at low speed, expect grabby, lurching braking. I've had my 2005 for over a year and still have not come to peace with them. I just drive extra cautiously at low speed. Be especially careful if the front wheel is not aimed directly ahead.
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post #18 of 27 Old Oct 26th, 2019, 5:50 pm
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Re: "Brake Failure" warning?

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Power assisted brakes were the biggest change for me from earlier LTs. If you need to STOP, they do that. If you need to slow, especially at low speed, expect grabby, lurching braking. I've had my 2005 for over a year and still have not come to peace with them. I just drive extra cautiously at low speed. Be especially careful if the front wheel is not aimed directly ahead.
Fortunately BMW did away with electrically assisted brakes in 2006 so your 2012RT doesn't have them. What it does have though is very good semi-linked brakes meaning when you pull on the handlebar brake both the front & back brakes are activated (with proportions calculated by the on board computer), and when you press the foot brake only the rear brake is activated. Your 2012 brakes shouldn't be grabby (because they aren't assisted) but djmellor's warning not to be too heavy handed when manoeuvring at very low speeds like in a carpark or on your driveway applies to all big bike with good brakes- like yours.

Well CalGx you are now a long way up the brake learning curve and all you had to do was ask.

Ian

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post #19 of 27 Old Oct 26th, 2019, 8:15 pm Thread Starter
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Re: "Brake Failure" warning?

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Fortunately BMW did away with electrically assisted brakes in 2006 so your 2012RT doesn't have them. What it does have though is very good semi-linked brakes meaning when you pull on the handlebar brake both the front & back brakes are activated (with proportions calculated by the on board computer), and when you press the foot brake only the rear brake is activated. Your 2012 brakes shouldn't be grabby (because they aren't assisted) but djmellor's warning not to be too heavy handed when manoeuvring at very low speeds like in a carpark or on your driveway applies to all big bike with good brakes- like yours.

Well CalGx you are now a long way up the brake learning curve and all you had to do was ask.

Ian
Thank you Ian, my brakes are not grabby but they definitely will stop me. Not a great deal of pressure is required. Not like the old cable controlled drum brakes on my Suzuki GT 750!

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #20 of 27 Old Oct 26th, 2019, 9:12 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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Yes, I realize that now. Apparently my system is functioning properly.

Speaking of brakes, this is the first motorcycle I have had that has both ABS and the combined braking of both wheels via the handbrake. My bike only requires the effort of two fingers pressure to do all the braking I need. If no emergency came along I could do all the normal braking with just two fingers. Is this normal? If I were to grab a handful of this handbrake I'd be kissing the back of my windshield! Is this normal and just something I need to get used to?
I only ever use two fingers. The brakes are great on this bike, you'll just get used to it. I've yet to do anything with braking at any speed to make it misbehave.

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post #21 of 27 Old Oct 27th, 2019, 12:26 am Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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I only ever use two fingers. The brakes are great on this bike, you'll just get used to it. I've yet to do anything with braking at any speed to make it misbehave.
That's good to know. I'm paranoid about locking the front wheel.

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #22 of 27 Old Oct 27th, 2019, 8:29 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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That's good to know. I'm paranoid about locking the front wheel.
I dare you to lock up the front brake! I've yet to get into a situation where the front ABS has activated and I've had several "oh shit" moments. Put simply, it's so hard to lock the fronts on dry pavement that I don't think I could do it I wanted to so get over that. Your life is directly connected to your ability to fully use the front brakes. Seriously, I dare you to actually lock them up!

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post #23 of 27 Old Oct 29th, 2019, 10:35 am Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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I dare you to lock up the front brake! I've yet to get into a situation where the front ABS has activated and I've had several "oh shit" moments. Put simply, it's so hard to lock the fronts on dry pavement that I don't think I could do it I wanted to so get over that. Your life is directly connected to your ability to fully use the front brakes. Seriously, I dare you to actually lock them up!
That's good to know. I locked my front wheel the night before my motorcycle road test when I was 16. I guess I've been paranoid since then! That was the summer of 1976...

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #24 of 27 Old Oct 29th, 2019, 1:20 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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That's good to know. I locked my front wheel the night before my motorcycle road test when I was 16. I guess I've been paranoid since then! That was the summer of 1976...
I get that. Modern motorcycle ABS systems make that next to impossible, except perhaps if you're heeled over in a turn and grab a big handful of front brake. The newer generation RT's have a lean angle sensor that provides the ABS computer additional input for calculating maximum permissible brake pressure.

The first bike I had that was ABS equipped was my '05 FJR. All my previous experience was based on manually avoiding locking the brakes (front or rear). The day I bought the thing, on the ride home from Albany, NY to Hartford, CT, I got run off the road by some idiot. I ended up heading for a telephone pole rolling on thickly laid gravel at the side of the road. In that split second my brain said, "you're dead one way or the other, grab the fronts like you're a rolling deadman" expecting to crash the thing with less than 100 miles on it. That remains the one and only time I've set off the front wheel ABS. I stopped. On both feet. Bike upright. I became an ABS believer right then and there.

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post #25 of 27 Old Oct 29th, 2019, 8:00 pm Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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I get that. Modern motorcycle ABS systems make that next to impossible, except perhaps if you're heeled over in a turn and grab a big handful of front brake. The newer generation RT's have a lean angle sensor that provides the ABS computer additional input for calculating maximum permissible brake pressure.

The first bike I had that was ABS equipped was my '05 FJR. All my previous experience was based on manually avoiding locking the brakes (front or rear). The day I bought the thing, on the ride home from Albany, NY to Hartford, CT, I got run off the road by some idiot. I ended up heading for a telephone pole rolling on thickly laid gravel at the side of the road. In that split second my brain said, "you're dead one way or the other, grab the fronts like you're a rolling deadman" expecting to crash the thing with less than 100 miles on it. That remains the one and only time I've set off the front wheel ABS. I stopped. On both feet. Bike upright. I became an ABS believer right then and there.
That's a great story! I will try to learn the virtues of ABS but without the hair raising adventures!

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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post #26 of 27 Old Oct 29th, 2019, 8:40 pm
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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The newer generation RT's have a lean angle sensor that provides the ABS computer additional input for calculating maximum permissible brake pressure.
<snip>
I don't often quote myself but here goes:

By "newer generation" I mean the Wethead series (I forget the actual model year this was introduced), not our generation (Camhead). Just wanted to be clear about that. Don't want you going out and grabbing a handful of front brake while scraping pegs based on my advise. That won't end well.

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post #27 of 27 Old Nov 1st, 2019, 8:15 pm Thread Starter
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Re: How much trouble have I got: "Brake Failure" warning?

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I don't often quote myself but here goes:

By "newer generation" I mean the Wethead series (I forget the actual model year this was introduced), not our generation (Camhead). Just wanted to be clear about that. Don't want you going out and grabbing a handful of front brake while scraping pegs based on my advise. That won't end well.
Thanks for pointing that out, I was just headed out the door to give it a try! Seriously, I hope to never have to "grab a handful" of front brake. Glad you made it through your experience unscathed.

Cal G.
Tidewater Virginia, USA
2012 R1200RT

Former rides in reverse order: '05 Electra Glide Ultra, '02 Kawasaki Voyager 12, 30 years off to raise kids, Kawasaki, KZ650, Suzuki GT 750, GT 380, Kawasaki 350, Yamaha 250, Honda CL160.
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